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Diseases Due to Air Pollutants

Diseases Due to Air Pollutants


CLINICAL TOXICOLOGY 9(6), pp. 923-927 (1976) Diseases Due to Air Pollutants* G. L. WALDBOTT, M.D. P. 0. Box 692 Warren, Michigan In a discussion of diseases due to air pollution we must briefly review certain data concerning the dispersion of pollutants in the atmosphere and the mechanism of their entry into the human body. We can distinguish between gaseous pollutants and so-called particulates. The latter a r e either solids o r fine liquid droplets called mis ts with a diameter in the range of 0.05 p to 500 p. The most minute particulates behave almost like a gas o r a vapor and are capable of coagulating with each other. L arger sized particulates seldom condense and coalesce. Their presence in the air is determined by their weight since the heavier ones drop to the ground. Such agents as sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, nitrates, and hydrocarbons are termed secondary particulates because they undergo changes in the atmosphere after they have been emitted from their source. Pollutants enter the system through inhalation, through ingestion, and through direct contact with the skin. Absorption through the skin is of minor significance since only few illnesses are precipitated by agents which
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